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Major new golf TV deal agreed

Sky Sports has secured exclusive live rights to the Ryder Cup, two Majors and the European Tour in a series of new long-term agreements.

The contracts will see the Ryder Cup broadcast exclusively live on Sky Sports for the rest of the decade and ensure Sky Sports viewers can see live international golf, throughout the year, for the next five years.

The new contracts give Sky Sports live coverage of:

* The Ryder Cup - in 2006 and 2008
* The US Open - through to end 2009
* The PGA Championship - through to end 2007
* The European Tour - a minimum of 34 live events each season through to end of 2008
* All four World Golf Championship events - through to end 2008

Vic Wakeling, Managing Director of Sky Sports, said: "The huge growth in the popularity of the Ryder Cup over the last 7 years of Sky's coverage has been one of sport's big success stories. Over the same period, the development of Sky's inter-active eight-screen coverage has broken new ground for television. We are delighted this will continue.

"At the same time, we plan to use our year-round coverage of the European Tour to spotlight the Ryder Cup team contenders, and to spot the Ryder Cup stars of the future."

The Ryder Cup agreement follows Sky's exclusive live coverage of the last four events; Oak Hill [1995], Valderrama [1997], Brookline [1999] and The De Vere Belfry [2002]. The 1995 event was the first to be live in the UK throughout all three days. The most recent, in 2002, offered Sky digital viewers live interactive coverage with a choice of live matches, and a wealth of information via an 8-screen Sky Sports Active service.

The 5-year agreement with the European Tour renews Sky's live rights until the end of 2008. Each year 34 events will be broadcast live - including The English Open, European Open, British Masters, and Wales Open plus all four World Golf Championship events. It follows eleven seasons of live Tour coverage and extends the relationship to 16 years. From 1993 Sky Sports brought live coverage of five Tour events, before the schedule was extended to ten from 1994 and over 30 in 1997.

The deal with the US Golf Association gives Sky Sports the exclusive live rights to the US Open and a number of other tournaments including the US Women's Open, US Senior Open, Walker Cup and Curtis Cup. It extends the current arrangement for a further five years.

The new deal with the PGA of America extends the current arrangement for a further four years and gives Sky Sports exclusive live coverage of a second Major, the PGA Championship, and the PGA Seniors.

Golf is now the second most televised sport on Sky Sports with programming every week of the year and over 3,000 hours scheduled in 2003. This season Sky Sports will show more than 85 live tournaments from across the European Tour, the US PGA Tour, the World Golf Championships, the Majors, and Seniors Tours plus the Solheim Cup and Walker Cup.

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